Robert K. Green, School of Human and Organizational Development
This study explored how the study participants make sense of their experiences of humiliation in a society that stigmatizes fat persons. Previous research in Fat Studies has not focused on humiliation. The research project used interpretative phenomenological analysis to explore the experiences of four men and women who self-identified as fat and who had experiences of humiliation related to their body size.
The meanings of the words and events shared by the participants, within a phenomenological framework, illuminated eight themes that structured their experiences: avoidance; place in the world; impediments to well-being and growth; agency and empowerment; recognition, exclusion, and disconnection; blame and fault; and oppression. A second framework used in this study was intersectionality, an analytic tool that helped examine the influence of race and gender in participants’ experiences. The third framework was a multi-level analysis that enabled an examination of the findings from three inter-related levels of context and analysis: micro, meso, and macro.
The study findings demonstrated that participants engaged in a cyclical process of experiences-interpretations-responses (EIR) when they faced a humiliating event. Experiences informed interpretations, which informed responses. New responses informed new experiences.
Key Words: Fat Studies, humiliation, intersectionality, avoidance, impediments, agency, empowerment, recognition, blame, fault, oppression